REPORT: STOKE CITY 2, PETERBOROUGH UNITED 0: A hard luck story for Posh as they lose to goals 93 minutes apart

Peterborough United slipped to a eighth defeat in nine away games at Championship side Stoke City today (November 20), but this one was hard to take against cynical, negative opponents.

By Alan Swann
Saturday, 20th November 2021, 5:24 pm
Updated Sunday, 21st November 2021, 9:10 am
Siriki Dembele of Peterborough United in action with Danny Batth of Stoke City. Photo: Joe Dent/
Siriki Dembele of Peterborough United in action with Danny Batth of Stoke City. Photo: Joe Dent/

Goals at the start and end of the game delivered a flattering scoreline for the home side. A third-minute strike from Mario Vrancic was deflected into the corner of the net and Stoke wrapped the game up with a fine 96th-minute effort on the breakaway from substitute Tyrese Campbell.

Inbetween those moments Posh generally bossed the game against a team who were creative only in the different ways they employed to stop play. Fouls on Siriki Dembele were naturally popular as were just sitting down in the turf or delaying restarts.

To be fair referee Eddie Wolstenholme added seven minutes at the end of the game. He even booked dozy home ‘keeper Adam Davies for timewasting with his side 2-0 up with 30 seconds top go.

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For all their possession though Posh didn’t force Davies into a single save, even when Stoke had been reduced to 10 men by the 90th-minute sending off of another substitute Sam Surridge for thrusting his head into Josh Knight’s midriff.

Despite his sterling display against Fulham in the previous outing, Posh striker Jonson Clarke-Harris was dropped to the substitutes’ bench as was teenager Harrison Burrows. Versatile defender Nathan Thompson was recalled to the starting line-up as was attacking midfielder Jorge Grant.

For Stoke there was no place for ex-on loan goalkeeper Josef Bursik as he picked up an injury on England Under 21 duty. A couple of key defenders were also missing from the home line-up which must have made Clarke-Harris’s frustration even greater.

On the surface it appeared to be another daunting away trip for Posh. The hosts have been strong at home, while Posh have been hopeless on their travels, a fact that prompted a visit from a psychologist to the training ground this week.

History was also against Posh. They’d lost this fixture in each of the last three stagings and hadn’t scored a goal in a Stoke away game since 1991.

So no great shock when Stoke struck in the third minute as Vrancic was given far too much time and space to shoot from 25 yards, but his shot still required a nick off Posh defender Frankie Kent to reach the corner of Dai Cornell’s net.

‘Here we go again’ must have been the concern, but no, Posh were equals for a dull half an hour before dominating the final 15 minutes of the half as Sammie Szmodics, Dembele and wingback Joe Ward making regular inroads down the right.

But incursions into the area didn’t lead to shots reaching the goal as Dembele and Ward were both frustrated by deflections which didn’t run kindly. Ward’s effort arrived after a fine ball out of defence by Thompson.

Grant curled a free kick just over the crossbar from the edge of the area and corners came and went with little excitement even though Mark Beevers found a decent amount of space on couple of occasions.

Stoke did come out firing in the second-half and it required a remarkable double save from Cornell to thwart Danny Batth and Steven Fletcher from the same corner in the 54th minute. Cornell has been rescued by amate minutes earlier after an ill-advised dash out of the area saw Jacob Brown go round him, but his shot was easily interceped by Thompson.

A couple of minutes later Jack Taylor thundered a shot into the underside of the crossbar from 25 yards. Szmodics nodded in the rebound, but from an offside position.

Posh then took charge without managing to convert possession into chances. Knight sliced wide within a minute of coming on and Burrows couldn’t turn a superb Ward cross in at the far post.

Posh were given hope when Surridge lost his head after a coming together with Knight, but if anything Darren Ferguson’s side became too frantic with the extra man.

And when Dembele was tackled 25 yards from goal, Campbell broke clear, beat Kent and smashed a shot home to seal a third straight win for the home side.

It was harsh on Posh, but hard luck stories are no use to a team who are now in the bottom three.

Posh: Dai Cornell, Nathan Thompson, Dan Butler (sub Harrison Burrows, 71 mins), Frankie Kent, Mark Beevers (sub Josh Knight, 84 mins), Jack Taylor, Oliver Norburn (sub Jonson Clarke-Harris, 68 mins), Joe Ward, Jorge Grant, Siriki Dembele, Sammie Szmodics.

Unused substitutes: Idris Kanu, Will Blackmore, Conor Coventry, Ronnie Edwards.

Stoke City: Adam Davies, Leo Ostigard, Danny Batth, Tommy Smith, James Chester, Joe Allen, Mario Vrancic, Josh Tymon (sub Morgan Fox, 68 mins), Jacob Brown (sub Tyrese Campbell, 77 mins), Romaine Sawyers, Steve Fletcher (sub Sam Surridge, 82 mins)..

Unused substitutes: Jack Bonham, Ben Wilmot, Demeaco Duhaney, Sam Surridge, Tom Ince.

Goals: Stoke - Vrancic (3 mins), Campbell (90 + 6 mins).

Sending off: Surridge (violent conduct).

Cautions: Stoke - Allen (foul), Campbell (foul), Batth (foul), Smith (foul), Davies (timewasting).

Posh - Knight (unsportsmanlike conduct), Taylor (foul).

Referee: Geoff Eltringham (8).

Attendance: 21,285 (1,026 Posh).